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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Biden's Dangerous Call for Regime Change in Russia."

Ralph Nader says, "Amid Disgraceful Questions For Judge Jackson Not One About Corporate Power."

Margaret Kimberley covers, "The Ongoing Covid Disaster."

Jim Hightower says, "Wimpy Leaders Ignore Strong People."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Our Governments Have Chosen Capitalism Over Preparing For Next COVID Surge."

John Nichols says we must, "Impeach Clarence Thomas."

James Donahue explores, "All Fools' Day - How Did This Get Started?"

Jessica Corbett returns with, "'Healthcare Is A Human Right': Sanders Announces Medicare For All Senate Hearing."

David Suzuki finds, "Climate Crisis Is Taking A Toll On Mental Health."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "It Looks To Me Like The January 6 Investigation Has Quietly Expanded."

Juan Cole says, "If Biden Really Wants Putin To Fall, He should Make Green Energy A War Measure."

Robert Reich wonders, "Why Do Putin, Trump, Tucker Carlson And The Republican Party Sound So Alike?"

Thom Hartmann says, "Democrats Must Demand Justice Thomas Resign...And His Wife Is Prosecuted."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "Putin Reaching 'End Of Goodfellas' Levels Of Paranoia," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Hotter Means Faster!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Englehart, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, NOAA, Brendan Smialowski, Kent Nishimura, Henry Nicholls, PBS News Hour, Tasos Katopodis, Tom Brenner, Tom Williams, CQ-Roll Call, Kostas Exarhos, Edward Lich, Chip Somodevilla, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Hotter Means Faster!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

I see where University of Sydney scientists have used the geological record of the deep sea to discover that past global warming has sped up deep ocean circulation. This is one of the missing links for predicting how future climate change may affect heat and carbon capture by the oceans. This is one of the missing links for predicting how future climate change may affect heat and carbon capture by the oceans: more vigorous ocean currents make it easier for carbon and heat to be "mixed in."

"So far, the ocean has absorbed a quarter of anthropogenic CO2 and over 90 percent of the associated excess heat," said the study's lead author, Dr. Adriana Dutkiewicz from the EarthByte group in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.

Microscopic marine organisms called plankton use this dissolved carbon to build their shells. They sink down to the seabed after they die, sequestering the carbon. These sedimentary deposits form the Earth's largest carbon sink.

The authors note that climate observations and models have been used alternatively to argue that deep ocean circulation may be slowing down or speeding up during global warming. This inconsistency is a problem for modeling future climate trends and the new study, published today in the journal Geology, helps resolve this controversy.

"The satellite data typically used to inform ocean models only cover a few decades, leading to a poor understanding of longer-term ocean variability. This prompted us to look at the deep-sea geological record to decipher these changes," Dr. Dutkiewicz said.

: Scientific ocean drilling data collected over half a century have generated a treasure trove from which to map deep sea currents. Dr. Dutkiewicz and co-author Professor Dietmar Muller compiled data from more than 200 drill sites to map the deep-sea sedimentary record, which can indicate current speed.

"A break in sedimentation indicates vigorous deep-sea currents, while continuous sediment accumulation indicates calmer conditions," Professor Müller said. "Combining these data with reconstructions of ocean basins has allowed geologists to track where and when these sediment breaks occurred."

The maps indicate that over the last 13 million years as the earth progressively cooled and developed expanding inland ice caps, sediment breaks gradually became less frequent-a tell-tale sign of deep-sea circulation becoming more sluggish.

By contrast, during the "hothouse climate" period immediately before that with global temperatures 3-4°C warmer than today, deep-ocean circulation was significantly more vigorous.

"Fast-forward to today, independent studies using satellite data suggest that large-scale ocean circulation and ocean eddies have become more intense over the last two to three decades of global warming, supporting our results," Professor Müller said.

Another recent study, focused on the ocean floor around New Zealand, found that the production of seashells preserved as carbonate sediment was higher during ancient periods of climate warming, despite ocean acidification during those times.

Dr. Dutkiewicz added: "Combining their results with ours leads us to conclude that warmer oceans not only have more vigorous deep circulation but are potentially also more efficient at storing carbon."

Yet the authors cautioned that we need to better understand how the ocean's capacity to store heat and carbon dioxide will be affected by future warming. "A more comprehensive analysis of the geological history of ocean basins is needed to verify this," Dr. Dutkiewicz said. To me this is obvious, hotter means faster currents, while colder means slower currents. But science isn't based on theory, but on facts, so it's nice when facts back up your theory!


02-17-1972 ~ 03-25-2022
Thanks for the music!

03-29-1946 ~ 03-29-2022
Thanks for the film!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks outside the Royal Castle about the Russian war in Ukraine March 26, 2022, in Warsaw, Poland.

Biden's Dangerous Call for Regime Change in Russia
With a reckless genie out of the bottle, no amount of damage control from the president's top underlings could stuff it back in.
By Norman Solomon

Ever since Joe Biden ended his speech in Poland on Saturday night by making one of the most dangerous statements ever uttered by a U.S. president in the nuclear age, efforts to clean up after him have been profuse. Administration officials scurried to assert that Biden didn't mean what he said. Yet no amount of trying to "walk back" his unhinged comment at the end of his speech in front of Warsaw's Royal Castle can change the fact that Biden had called for regime change in Russia.

They were nine words about Russian President Vladimir Putin that shook the world: "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

With a reckless genie out of the bottle, no amount of damage control from the president's top underlings could stuff it back in. "We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia, or anywhere else, for that matter," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Sunday. Such words might plausibly have less than full weight; Blinken was chief of staff at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when, in mid-2002, then-Senator Biden wielded the gavel at crucial hearings that completely stacked the witness deck in support of the subsequent U.S. invasion of Iraq, with the explicit goal of regime change.

The USA's commander in chief, brandishing the power to launch one of the world's two biggest nuclear arsenals, would be out of his mind to consciously announce a goal of dethroning the leader of the world's other nuclear superpower. Worst case would be that he was blurting out his government's actual secret goal, which would not speak well of impulse control.

But it's not much more reassuring to think that the president simply got carried away with his emotions. The day after, that was part of the messaging from Biden's cleanup detail. "Administration officials and Democratic lawmakers said Sunday the off-the-cuff remark was an emotional response to the president's interactions in Warsaw with [Ukrainian] refugees," the Wall Street Journal reported.

However-before the cosmetics began to cover Biden's unscripted statement-the New York Times provided a quick news analysis under the headline "Biden's Barbed Remark About Putin: A Slip or a Veiled Threat?" The piece, by seasoned establishment reporters David Sanger and Michael Shear, noted that Biden's off-script close to his speech came with "his cadence slowing for emphasis." And they added: "On its face, he appeared to be calling for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be ousted for his brutal invasion of Ukraine."

Mainstream journalists have avoided putting a fine point on the likelihood that World War III just got closer thanks to Biden's words, whether or not they were "a slip" or "a veiled threat." In fact, it might never be possible to know which it was. But that ambiguity underscores that his slip and/or threat was mind-blowingly irresponsible, endangering the survival of humanity on this planet.

Outrage is the appropriate response. And a special onus is on Democrats in Congress, who should be willing to put humanity above party and condemn Biden's extreme irresponsibility. But prospects for such condemnation look bleak.

Biden's impromptu nine words underscore that we must not take anything for granted about his rationality. Russia's murderous war in Ukraine does not give Biden any valid excuse to make a horrendous situation worse. On the contrary, the U.S. government should be determined to promote and pursue negotiations that could end the killing and find long-term compromise solutions. Biden has now made it even more difficult to pursue diplomacy with Putin.

To even hint that the U.S. is seeking regime change in Russia-and to leave the world wondering whether the president is slipping or threatening-is a form of imperial insanity in the nuclear era that we must not tolerate.

Activists have a special role to play-by emphatically insisting that members of Congress and the Biden administration must focus on finding solutions that will save Ukrainian lives as well as put a stop to the slide toward military escalation and global nuclear annihilation.

To even hint that the U.S. is seeking regime change in Russia-and to leave the world wondering whether the president is slipping or threatening-is a form of imperial insanity in the nuclear era that we must not tolerate.

"I'm addressing the people in the United States," former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said during an interview on Democracy Now just one day before Biden's speech in Poland. "How many times have an attempt by the American government to effect regime change anywhere in the world worked out well? Ask the women of Afghanistan. Ask the people of Iraq. How did that liberal imperialism work out for them? Not very well. Do they really propose to try this out with a nuclear power?"

Overall, in recent weeks, President Biden has jettisoned all but the flimsiest pretenses of seeking a diplomatic solution to end the horrors of the war in Ukraine. Instead, his administration keeps ratcheting up the self-righteous rhetoric while moving the world closer to ultimate catastrophe.

(c) 2022 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, photographed during her Senate Judiciary
Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday, Mar. 21, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Amid Disgraceful Questions For Judge Jackson Not One About Corporate Power
Just the latest example of Congress refusing to confront the supremacy of out-of-control corporate behemoths.
By Ralph Nader

In over twenty hours of grueling confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Jackson's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican Senators (Cruz, Cotton, Hawley, Blackburn, and Graham) found much time to disgrace themselves, using the Judge as a prop for their despicable political ambitions. Meanwhile the Democratic (and Republican) Senators found no time to tap into Judge Jackson's knowledge and analysis of the grave issues regarding the nexus of the power of giant corporations and the Constitution.

Senators, who should have known better, declined to raise the important questions about corporate personhood, or the provision of equal rights for corporations with human beings in a Constitution that never mentions "corporations" or "companies." The Constitution is all about "We the People."

Ignoring the immense power of global corporations over the rule of law, the immunities and privileges these companies use to escape the law and harm people with impunity, and the power of corporations under the 2011 Citizens United case to spend unlimited amounts of money to independently support or oppose candidates for public office were taboo subjects.

These are critical questions that leading citizen groups like Public Citizen and Common Cause would have wanted raised. The hearings, before a large television and radio audience, could have provided a rare educational moment for the public!

In numerous nomination hearings for Associate Justices of the High Court, we have submitted questions to presumably receptive Democratic Senators about corporations and the law. They were never asked. Our requests that Senators submit questions on corporate power to the nominee for written responses were also regularly denied.

Since my testimony with Dr. Sidney Wolfe during Justice Stephen Breyer's confirmation hearings in 1994, outside civic witnesses have largely been prohibited from testifying at these tightly choreographed spectacles. Congress has added this exclusion to their overall closure movement against the civic community.

We are left with submitting testimony for the record, which rarely sees the light of the Judiciary Committee's day. On the last day of the hearings with the nominees, the two Parties each select their own panel of rubber-stamp witnesses (often law professors). Both the media and senatorial attendance declines.

The Committee's arrogance is such that distinguished people asking to testify do not even get the courtesy of a written acknowledgement. They're just treated as nonpersons, instead of valuable contributors to the nomination process.

During the nomination in 2006 of the most right-wing corporatist, unitary-presidency ideologue, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., I wrote that the Senators did not "pose questions relating to access-to-justice, as provided by tort law, nor to the generic constitutional questions relating to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and their dubious authority to side-step the sovereignty of our three branches of government with their mandatory decisions" affecting workers, consumers, and the environment.

When the most powerful institutions in our country escape scrutiny at these times of peak interest in the rule of law (constitutional and statutory), the charge that Congress refuses to confront corporatism and the supremacy of these out-of-control corporate behemoths comes full circle.

Call them above the law, beyond the law, or the creators of the law, giant and powerful corporations are a major domestic threat to our democracy. They are corrupting elections, dominating the media, blocking union formation, obstructing judicial justice for wrongfully injured people, and destroying our consumer freedom of contract - while strategically planning the future of human beings, down to their genetic inheritance.

Asking Judge Jackson her thoughts about the legal rights of robots, the engagement in military activities by corporate contractors, and the corporate patenting of life forms would have increased public awareness about important legal issues. Even if she artfully avoided judgmental replies, just asking what she knows about the settled law in these and other areas would have educated lawmakers and the public.

To get a sense of the immensity of this overlooked corporate phenomenon, please visit our website for the list of my previous questions and see the excellent article by the great journalist Morton Mintz in the November 1, 2005 issue of The Nation titled "Serious Questions for Samuel A. Alito Jr.".

Readers, remember Congress is misusing the powers that you have granted it under the Constitution, but you still hold the sovereign power and duty to safeguard and improve our democracy.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

The founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. The Ongoing Covid Disaster
By Margaret Kimberley

Pollsters have advised Joe Biden to declare covid over. But the pandemic revealed all the shortcomings of a political system which is dedicated to austerity and to protecting capitalist interests. Declarations of victory should be treated with skepticism.

Nothing shows the abject failure of the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration like the continuing toll of covid-19 deaths in this country. A pledge to end the covid pandemic was a centerpiece of their 2020 campaign. They promised to improve upon Donald Trump's disastrous handling of the crisis which resulted in the deaths of 385,000 people in 2020. Biden and Harris had 446,000 covid deaths as of their first anniversary in office. The total covid death toll is expected to reach 1 million by the end of March 2022. Now an Omicron subvariant, known as B.A.2, is becoming the dominant variant. The U.S. usually follows Europe in its covid rates, and on that basis scientists are predicting a new wave in the next two to three weeks.

The bad news isn't surprising. Biden made clear where his priorities lay when he appointed Jeff Zients to be his covid response coordinator. Zients isn't a physician, scientist, or public health expert. He is a wealthy hedge fund manager and democratic party fund raiser. Zients was an acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration and a Facebook board member. His appointment made clear that Biden meant what he said when he told the U.S. oligarchs, "Nothing will fundamentally change."

The Biden administration solution to the ongoing crisis was to push for vaccination only and now to pretend that the pandemic is over, despite the fact that the supposedly "milder" Omicron variant killed more than 120,000 people. The reason for the lie is a simple one. They don't want to use the tools that would bring the pandemic under control. The solutions have not changed. Free access to healthcare, ongoing income support, and letting sick people stay home are all tools that have been proven useful. Instead the Biden administration Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did what corporate America wanted and decreased the number of days needed for infected people to isolate from ten days to five. The CDC is telling the public they can unmask and Biden says it is time to return to the office.

A memo from democratic polling firm Impact Research gives the game away. "Declare the crisis of covid over and push feeling and acting more normal." In the absence of a system which cares for the people and their needs, ignoring them is the only solution possible. The bad advice continues, "The more we talk about the threat of covid and onerously restrict people's lives because of it, the more we turn them against us and show them we're out of touch with their daily realities."

Notice that changing government action appears nowhere in the dubious advice. Of course people are tired of covid after two long years, but it is a lie to claim that they want the government to throw up its hands and say all is well when it isn't. Nothing says being out of touch like a climbing death rate.

As always happens in matters of health care, Black people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In New York City, the hospitalization rate for Black patients was twice as high as for white patients during the Omicron surge. The story is the same in California, where the death rate for Black people has increased tenfold since the summer of 2021. Nationwide Black patients were hospitalized at four times the rate of whites. The explanation for the stark disparities has not changed. Black people are less likely to have jobs that allow for remote work and are more likely to live in multi-family residences that increase the likelihood of infection. We can see that the front line workers who were rhetorically elevated are in fact still disregarded and are more likely to become covid statistics.

The United States has the worst covid death rate of any of the other so-called rich nations. Conversely, a recent surge in China brought that country the first reported covid death in more than one year. The human rights violator isn't the country which has been so thoroughly demonized. It is the U.S. which has no legitimacy as it uses capitalism, the source of so much suffering, as the means of ending a pandemic. While China is constantly picked apart and declared a human rights pariah, that nation of 1.3 billion people shows the U.S. the way out of the crisis.

But the way out is not the American way. Neoliberalism and austerity are the rules for public policy in this country. Funding to reimburse for care of the uninsured is about to end. The same Congress that won't act has acted very quickly to give military aid to Ukraine, and $13 billion was allocated in just one week's time.

The number of deaths is an indictment of the United States and its political system. The public good was never the priority, not for Donald Trump, and not for Joe Biden either. From the beginning his goal was to defeat covid with vaccines alone, giving more money for big pharma without making any other changes that would help the people. Biden took direction from the private sector instead of telling them what to do. Now the public are whiplashed with bad advice, being told, again, that they no longer need to wear masks and that they should go back to their workplaces even though a new variant is on the horizon. We have seen this movie before and saw it end with devastating Delta and Omicron surges.

Zients is leaving his job to return to the private sector and big money. But the damage is done and the direction is clear. Biden hopes to gaslight the public into thinking that covid is in the past so that he can stave off defeat in the 2022 mid-term elections. But if past experience is any indication, covid will keep killing. The covid response is just one Biden failure. There is no more Child Tax Credit, no increase in the minimum wage, and no health care for all, the simplest solution of all. Having failed to act on his campaign promises, the Biden administration is proving to be dead too.

(c) 2022 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e -mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Wimpy Leaders Ignore Strong People

By Jim Hightower

Right-wing Republicans and corporate Democrats have become a pathetic bunch of "No-can-do Nancys."

Faced with an economy reeling from the plutocratic policies that these same lawmakers pushed down upon us, they are now whimpering that America is too weak to meet the obvious needs of its own people. "We must surrender to the Gods of Economic Despair," they cry. At a time when history calls for our leaders to step forth with a bit of FDR boldness and rally grassroots people to rebuild our economy, they trumpet for retreat, giving up on America's historic ideal of the common good.

A jobs program? "Everyone for themselves," they shout. Health care for all? "Go to the emergency room," they scream. Social Security? "Socialism," they screech, "run away from it!" Public education? "Can't afford it," they tell us, as they turn their backs on hundreds of thousands of teachers soon to be fired. Repair America's rotting infrastructure? "Too big for us, " they wail, "leave it to the next generation."

Wagging teabags rather than picking up the tools of real recovery, the woeful voices of American failure insist that they speak for the People. Hogwash. Americans are a strong, community-minded, democratic-spirited, can-do people. Indeed, the latest Gallop poll shows that 60 percent of the public favors "additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy."

"But we must balance the budget," whine the naysayers. Of course we should, and big majorities say we should do that by putting people to work, taxing the superrich to pay their fair share of Social Security and other public needs, as well as by slashing the $12 billion a month we're spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's time for our "leaders" to stop whining - and catch up to the people.

(c) 2022 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden arrive for a G7 leaders meeting
during a NATO summit at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022.

Our Governments Have Chosen Capitalism Over Preparing For Next COVID Surge
By William Rivers Pitt

Climate scientists have been warning for years about the menace of "feedback loops." A feedback loop takes place when the right set of circumstances creates a situation that feeds upon itself, growing stronger with every cycle.

The not-so-frozen tundra of Siberia serves as perfect current example. Human-caused warming melts the permafrost in the ground, allowing the release of billions of tons of methane from the soil. That methane enters the atmosphere and warms it more, causing more permafrost to melt and release more methane. Round and round we go.

As we inch toward the thousandth day of COVID-19 in the U.S., another kind of feedback loop has formed itself. Instead of wind and rain, this one is made of people and policy, an extension of capitalism you could see coming a mile off with the right kind of eyes.

I can even pinpoint the day this COVID feedback loop began to eat itself, and us: March 20, 2020. On that day, the first of what became a flood tide of jowly capitalists went on the cable news networks with the demand that "low-risk," low-wage workers should go back to work and just let the virus "burn through" their ranks.

The intervening months have descended into a lethal tug of war between people who believe the science and are willing to take precautions to avoid even more mass death, and the "my freedom" people who are willing to let COVID carry off millions of people rather than subject themselves to the gross tyranny of... masks and reasonable health measures? If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not believed it possible, and would have walked out of any movie daring to peddle such nonsense in a script.

The script itself, while absurd, is also simplicity itself: Endure a lethal COVID surge, but don't prepare for the next one - and meanwhile, actively stand down current defenses so people go to work and spend money because, "It's over!" NOPE, another mass wave of death followed by another wave of too-late restrictions followed by another surge of bleak depression and despair.

Some of the smoke clears (again), restrictions are lifted (again) in the name of the capitalist imperative (again), enough people are gulled (again) into letting their guard down. NOPE, a vaccine-resistant subvariant emerges from North Korea (theoretically) and lays waste to Southeast Asia in as much time as it takes to play the World Cup. Lather rinse repeat, but this time the culling is largely relegated to people like me - those with underlying medical risk factors - once it reaches these shores, because of course it will, because the last thing we'll do is restrict air travel... This weird passage we've entered is the COVID policy version of throwing the parachute out of the plane and then jumping out after it.

Today, they're calling the next COVID-related challenge a "stress test," a chance to throw open all the doors and see how well things go with virtually no standard precautions in place. "Whatever happens next, we're living the reality the CDC's guidance bargained for," writes Katherine J. Wu for The Atlantic. "The country's new COVID rules have asked us to sit tight, wait, and watch. We may soon see the country's true tolerance for disease and death on full display."

I'm not certain exactly how or when the decision was made to chart this perilous course. It just sort of... happened, like osmosis. A segment of the population found that ever-present permanent high gear of high dudgeon about masks and perfectly safe shots, capitalism whispered "Yeah what they said" through all the available political and social channels.

Suddenly, here we are, on the edge of a test we are not prepared to take. There is enough proof of this in the public surveys to give one pause. One February Washington Post/ABC News poll has 58 percent of the people saying controlling the spread of COVID is the top priority. A Yahoo News poll conducted precisely that same week has 51 percent saying returning to normal and "learning to live" with COVID is most important... and if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.

Polls shmolls, I know, but something is badly out of joint. David Lim of Politico explains what a new COVID surge will find when it comes:

Covid-19 infections are rebounding in several European countries and Biden officials are monitoring infections in the United Kingdom, where cases have jumped more than 36 percent over the past week. Meanwhile, the number of molecular tests shipped each week by major manufacturers in the United States has fallen by more than 50 percent over the last month.

Scott Becker, the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said that the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes it made last summer when demand for testing plummeted and test manufacturers scaled back production. "It's like we've learned absolutely nothing as a system during this pandemic," Becker said. "I have no reason to believe that wouldn't happen again because they don't have the demand."

The concern over the supply of testing comes as the Biden administration warns Congress that if it does not soon provide more than $22 billion in additional funding, the administration will not be able to purchase new supplies of drugs, vaccines, masks and tests. The White House on Tuesday plans to wind down the federal subsidies that guarantee free tests for uninsured people due to lack of funding.

This, even as the administration is preparing to endorse a second booster shot, meaning a fourth overall shot, to help older Americans fight off the virus. There is precedent for this - polio inoculation requires a four-dose regimen of that vaccine. But hmmm... why would we need another layer of protection if we have this thing in hand?

Answer: We don't. This weird passage we've entered is the COVID policy version of throwing the parachute out of the plane and then jumping out after it. That big green thing rushing up at you? Yeah, that's the ground, which currently holds the remains of nearly a million souls lost in this country alone. Meanwhile the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is raising increasing levels of hell around the world, with no certainty yet as to the severity of an actual infection wave. At present, it makes up more than 55 percent of new cases in New England, and 34.9 percent nationally. If history is any guide at all, that wave is likely coming.

We weren't ready before because it was all unprecedented. We aren't ready now because capitalism's whisper campaign combined with toxic right-wing politics were potent enough to buckle the knees of even the most stalwart of COVID policy advocates. After all, it's an election year. In this, the country fails to live up to Uri Freedman's new benchmark for national strength: The ability to take a punch, get knocked down and then get up again, however many times it takes.

We are not ready for a new COVID wave, deliberately. I shudder in my soul to imagine the impending fury and fear, the wrath of those who thought they heard something hopeful, only to discover it was God laughing at their plans. The feedback loop continues, and there will be hell to pay.

(c) 2022 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas attends the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Supreme Court
Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020, in Washington, D.C

Impeach Clarence Thomas
The justice cast the sole vote to block access to information about the January 6 insurrection that his wife cheered on. His actions demand an inquiry.
By John Nichols

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's actions have invited an impeachment inquiry into what he knew about efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and how he acted upon that knowledge. Thomas has always been a controversial justice. During his more than 30 years on the high court, he has regularly faced criticism for abusing his position. Up to this point, the court's longest-serving justice has avoided accountability. But Thomas's scandalous approach to his responsibilities has caught up with him. E-mails reveal that his wife, Ginni Thomas, participated in efforts to overturn the 2020 president election in the weeks leading up to the January 6, 2021, insurrection. That insurrection is the subject of a congressional inquiry that former president Donald Trump has tried at thwart at every turn. In January, the Supreme Court rejected Trump's attempt to block the release of presidential records to the House committee leading that investigation.

There was only one dissenter: Clarence Thomas.

Seen in the context of the revelation that Ginni Thomas hectored members of the Trump administration and Congress to overturn the election result, the prospect that Clarence Thomas's dissent was motivated by a desire to hide details of inappropriate activity by his wife and others raises sufficient concern to justify an impeachment inquiry. The point of that inquiry should be to answer the essential questions asked last week by veteran broadcaster Dan Rather after the latest revelations about Ginni Thomas's actions: "What does Clarence Thomas know? And when did he know it?"

If it is proven that Clarence Thomas knew of his wife's "Release the Kraken" texts urging then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to ramp up efforts to overturn the election results and that the justice used his position to try to prevent investigators from sharing that knowledge, he should be removed from the court for precisely the sort of abuse that the founders feared when they established the accountability powers outlined in the Constitution.

It was Alexander Hamilton who argued for inclusion of an expansive impeachment power in the Constitution, explaining that a process was needed to guarantee that the people's representatives would have "the opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the misconduct of the persons who [hold positions of public] trust, in order either to their removal from office, or to punishment which admit of it." While the impeachment standard that Hamilton and his compatriots proposed is usually thought of in the context of presidents, most of the impeachments that have gone to trial over the past 235 years have involved judges-including Supreme Court justices-who under Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution are only allowed to "hold their Offices during good Behaviour."

That's a vague term, to be sure. But the Brennan Center argues, correctly I believe, that judicial impeachments have "histor-ic-ally been limited to cases of seri-ous ethical or crim-inal miscon-duct."

By any honest measure of how jurists can and should be held to account, Justice Thomas has met the standard that requires an impeachment inquiry.

This is not about what Ginni Thomas did, although no one should lose sight of the fact that, as The Washington Post explains, a politically connected member of the Washington establishment "repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote." This is about what Clarence Thomas, a sworn and duty-bound defender of the Constitution who was in a position to facilitate an inquiry into gross wrongdoing on the part of Trump and his associates, did to thwart accountability.

As Zac Petkanas, a former aide to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, explained, "This is a full blown crisis of legitimacy for the Supreme Court. Ginni Thomas helped organize a coup attempt against the US government and Justice Thomas abused his office to try to cover it up. Enormous damage has been done to the institution." That damage must be addressed, and Sarah Lipton-Lubet, the executive director of the Take Back the Court Action Fund, outlined an appropriate course of action when she put the impeachment option on the table.

Arguing that "Ginni Thomas was not merely a bystander during the January 6 insurrection and she can no longer be treated as such," she explained that "Justice Thomas has repeatedly been the Court's lone holdout stonewalling transparency on matters of the insurrection and efforts to overturn the 2020 Election, dissenting from the Court's decision to allow the House investigative panel to access key Trump administration documents and disagreeing with the Court's decision not to take up a case that threatened the legitimacy of mail-in ballots in the 2020 Election."

With these facts understood, Lipton-Lubet concluded:

Given that Justice Thomas has already made known he won't recuse himself from cases related to his wife's right-wing activism, and the damning evidence of his wife's involvement in this attack on our democracy, Thomas is clearly unfit to serve on the nation's highest Court. Clarence Thomas must immediately resign from his seat on the Supreme Court. If he refuses, Congress must move to impeach him. The integrity of the Court, our judicial system, and our democracy as a whole depends on it.
That is not a radical demand. It is in keeping with the intents of the impeachment power, which was established to guard against the corruption of not just the executive branch but the courts as well, and which remains our nation's most vital tool for assuring that positions of public trust do not become the playthings of political and judicial charlatans.

The Constitution provides more than enough space to justify an impeachment resolution targeting Thomas, and the enquiry that would extend from it. The challenge is to get members of Congress to take seriously their oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

One member who is bearing allegiance to her oath is Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who reviewed the evidence of Ginni Thomas's advocacy for "unrelenting efforts" to steal the 2020 election and Justice Thomas's solo dissent against the release of Trump's January 6 documents and declared, "Clarence Thomas needs to be impeached." Her colleagues should join her in accepting that the time has come to hold Justice Thomas to account.

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

All Fools' Day - How Did This Get Started?
By James Donahue

This is the first day of April. Those who might have overlooked checking the date may be easy prey for pranksters bent on keeping the traditions of April Fools' Day alive. It is a day for pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes.

Known as All Fools' Day in other parts of the world, the day has never been a national holiday. But it is a day dedicated to an odd form of celebration none-the-less.

Historians can't pin down the exact origin of all this foolishness but there are various interesting theories.

Perhaps the most popular thought is that the origin of All Fools' Day is traced back to 1592 in France when King Charles IX introduced the Gregorian calendar. And that caused a lot of confusion among the citizens as to just what day they were living in. The most significant shift was that the New Year's celebration was moved from the week of March 25-April 1 to January 1.

We didn't have radio, television or telephones in 1592 so communication traveled slowly. Those who failed to get the message, or just forgot about the change in dates for the New Year celebration, were labeled "fools" by their friends and subject to ridicule.

As the story is told, the people that still celebrated the new year on April 1 were called "April fish," suggesting that only the young and naïve fish in the pond were the most easily caught. A prank of hooking a paper fish on the person's back became a common joke of the day.

A good story, perhaps, but European literature dating much earlier also makes reference to citizens playing pranks on their friends and neighbors. In fact French poet Elov d'Amerval referred to an "April fish" as early as 1508, nearly a century before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar.

Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote about a nobleman that send his servants to do silly errands on April 1, in 1539. And in 1698, several people were reportedly sold tickets to see lions washed at the Tower of London.

Some believe that Chaucer's Canterbury Tale: "Nun's Priest's Tale," set on the date thirty days and two of March, 1392, in which the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox, may be among the very earliest references to trickery on April 1. There are only 31 days in March.

Whatever its origins, April 1, or dates close to this, have become traditional triggers of general tomfoolery in countries around the world. At least in the Northern Hemisphere.

And this leads us to believe that the real reasons for the day of rivalry may be linked to the beginning of the end of the cold days of winter and the joy of promise that a new year of sunshine and harvest may bring.

It is a kind of May Day celebration, only one month early.

(c) 2022 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a rally in front of PhRMA's Washington, D.C. office to protest high prescription drug prices on September 21, 2021.

'Healthcare Is A Human Right': Sanders Announces Medicare For All Senate Hearing
Rep. Cori Bush, who co-chaired this week's House event on the topic, thanked the Senate Budget Committee chair and celebrated "momentum" in Congress to pass related legislation
By Jessica Corbett

Just a day after a panel in the U.S. House of Representatives met to discuss universal healthcare legislation, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders announced that he plans to hold a Medicare for All hearing this May.

"The momentum to guarantee healthcare as a human right is real here in Congress."

"I'm happy to inform members of this committee that in early May we will be having a hearing—right here, in this committee—on the need to pass a Medicare for All single-payer program," Sanders (I-Vt.) said during a meeting on President Joe Biden's latest budget proposal.

Sanders, a longtime single-payer advocate, declared that "as a nation, we should understand what every other major country does: Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege."

"The function of a rational healthcare system is to provide healthcare to all in a cost-effective way—not to allow private insurance companies and private drug companies to make obscene levels of profit," he added.

The committee chair also highlighted that according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "Medicare for All would save the American people and our entire healthcare system $650 billion each and every year."

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who co-chaired the House Oversight Committee's Tuesday hearing about Medicare for All, welcomed Sanders' remarks.

As Common Dreams reported, during the House event, Bush asserted that "Congress must implement a system that prioritizes people over profits, humanity over greed, and compassion over exploitation."

"This policy will save lives, I want to make that clear," she added. "I hope this hearing will be one more step forward in our commitment to ensuring everyone in this country, and particularly our Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, have the medical care they need to thrive."

(c) 2022 Jessica Corbett Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.

As we address the ongoing climate crisis, we must also deal with the growing mental health crisis it's causing.

Climate Crisis Is Taking A Toll On Mental Health
By David Suzuki

Climate change is sad. It's frightening. It's demoralizing. Even knowing that countless solutions are available, with more emerging daily, can cause despair because of the petty pace at which we're embracing them.

It's bad enough that people are suffering ever-increasing impacts of climate disruption - from heat domes and wildfires to floods and droughts - but the toll on mental health has also reached crisis levels.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has, for the first time, assessed the mounting effects of climate disruption on mental health worldwide. Evidence shows that fast-paced climate events, as well as slower ones like sea level rise, ice melt and seasonal changes, contribute to increasing rates of stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, sadness, ecological grief, substance abuse, diminished social relations and domestic violence.

As with global heating itself, impacts are disproportionately harming the most vulnerable - people with limited wealth and resources, people living closer to the land, people already experiencing mental health challenges, and women, the elderly, youth and children. It also has profound effects on those working on climate issues, including scientists, writers and activists.

The obvious solution is to address the climate crisis with the resources and solutions it demands. Although many impacts are locked in because of emissions we've already pumped into the atmosphere, knowing people everywhere were taking it seriously and working to resolve it as quickly as possible would restore hope and confidence to many.

But even if we were to stop burning fossil fuels and start employing the many available solutions immediately, we wouldn't suddenly be living in a happy, unpolluted world.

As we address the ongoing climate crisis, we must also deal with the growing mental health crisis it's causing.

Three Canadian scientists who contributed to the IPCC's Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report argue that building and promoting resilience is important.

Ashlee Cunsolo from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Breanne Aylward and Sherilee Harper from the University of Alberta point to the American Psychological Association's strategies to build personal resilience, "including building belief in one's own resilience, fostering optimism, cultivating coping strategies, finding sources of personal meaning, finding social support networks (family, friends, organized groups), fostering and upholding a connection to place and maintaining connections to one's culture."

They also write about the need for "climate-specific training in education and for physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and allied health professionals." And they argue that "health systems and health authorities must take measures to assess and enhance health system readiness to deal with growing mental health needs and increase disaster planning and training, to further support individual and community resilience to climate change."

In our 2017 book Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do, we devoted just one page to the effects of climate change on mental health, in part because there was little research on the topic. It's good to see more study and resources going into the problem, but much more is needed.

Cunsolo, Aylward and Harper, who have expertise in climate and health, write that all levels of government must prioritize mental health in all policies. Incorporating individual and community mental health in climate change adaptation measures, and taking urgent measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they say, would increase health and well-being overall, and mental health in particular.

We must also find ways to take care of ourselves and each other. Part of that is recognizing that if you or people around you are feeling anxious, sad or depressed, you aren't alone. Connecting with others can provide purpose and comfort, whether it's with family, friends, support groups, social or sports organizations or the climate and environmental movement.

Taking measures to reduce our impact can make us feel we're part of the solution. Exercise can improve mental and physical health. And, as always, getting out into nature has numerous health benefits, from better physical fitness to reduced anxiety and depression and improved emotional states and adaptive behaviours.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If your workplace has an employee and family assistance program, use it. Check in with family and friends. Start a peer support group - David Suzuki Foundation staff have held monthly meetings since 2016. And learn about the various mental health resources in your community.

We're all in this together. Take care.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

It Looks To Me Like The January 6 Investigation Has Quietly Expanded
The Department of Justice is not looking to hire 131 people for no reason.
By Charles P. Pierce

Like just about anyone else, I am frustrated that we have not yet seen tumbrels full of employees of the previous administration* paraded through the streets of Washington in the general direction of the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse. (After all, the temporary traffic complications caused by a sudden influx of idiots has cleared up.) But I am full of hope still, and USA Today charged me with a bit more on Monday.

The request for additional personnel was part of Justice's $37.7 billion 2023 budget proposal unveiled Monday by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. "Regardless of whatever resources we see or get, let's be very, very clear: we are going to hold those perpetrators accountable, no matter where the facts lead us ... no matter what level," Monaco said.
And, from Business Insider:
The Justice Department is seeking $34.1 million to bring on additional attorneys for the January 6 investigation. In total, Biden administration has requested nearly $37.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Justice Department, a more than $2.6 billion increase from the amount approved for the current fiscal year.

The request comes on the heels of the Justice Department securing convictions in the first trial connected to the Capitol attack. Earlier this month, a jury found a Texas man named Guy Reffitt guilty of trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds with a handgun, along with separate charges related to January 6. Reffitt, a member of the far-right Three Percenters militia, is set for sentencing on June 8.

This isn't a county road crew. Nobody's getting one of these jobs because they have an uncle on the governor's council. If the DOJ wants a 131-lawyer boost, it's because the DOJ believes there will be plenty of work for the new folks to do. And it likely will not entirely involve running down people in deer camps in rural Pennsylvania or upper Michigan. I suspect some of these lawyers will only have to walk up Capitol Hill from the Prettyman courthouse to chat with members of Congress who have piqued their interest. It looks to me as though the investigation quietly has expanded. The tumbrels need oiling anyway.

(c) 2022 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"What being a socialist means is... that you hold out... a vision of society where poverty is absolutely unnecessary, where international relations are not based on greed... but on cooperation... where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

If Biden Really Wants Putin To Fall, He should Make Green Energy A War Measure
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - President Joe Biden, at the end of his impassioned address in Warsaw, said:

"A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people's love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia - for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.

We will have a different future - a brighter future rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities.

For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

It should be obvious that Biden was not making a threat to carry out regime change. but expressing a wish for a juster world in which a leader like Russian President Vladimir Putin could not survive his own public after committing war crimes in Ukraine.

But if Mr. Biden wants to do something practical to make it less likely that Putin can survive, or can be the leader of a medium power on the world stage if he does, he should frame the green energy transition as emergency legislation needed to combat the Russian oil and gas giant. If the US develops the technology and infrastructure to electrify transportation quickly, it will defund states like Russia and Iran, who punch above their weight in world affairs largely because of their production of pricey fossil fuels. Russia's ruble has rebounded as it has become clear that the world will go on buying its oil and gas.

PBS: "President Biden Delivers Address from Poland"

The United States imported 8% of its petroleum products from Russia in 2021, though Biden is going to end those imports. That won't matter, because the US will just buy from somewhere else, and the old customers of that producer will be forced to turn to Russia. Unless demand is taken out of the market, Putin goes on getting rich. Moreover, Europe cannot as easily cut Russia off as the US, because it has little oil or gas of its own. A full court press for electrified transportation in the US will have a devastating effect on investment in the industry and will throw up new technologies that will help revive US industry and help other countries go green as well.

Washington State has shown how this can be done. Governor Jay Inslee has just signed a game-changing law that requires all vehicles bought, sold or registered in the state with a model year of 2030 or later to be electric!

Eleven other states intend to ban internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) vehicles by 2035, including California and New York. Since there won't be much point manufacturing cars just for small states like Alabama, these laws are likely ICE-killers.

But these states want Mr. Biden and Congress to step up and put the federal government's muscle behind such laws.

Biden is positioning clean energy and climate measures to be part of his budget this year. It might be harder for Republicans and two Democrats in Congress to obstruct the president's plans if he framed them as a war measure to take on the menace of the Russian rogue state.

The rhetoric of a war on Russian oil and gas would be powerful, and would expose congressmen and senators who dragged their feet to charges of aiding the enemy.

Biden gave a powerful and historic speech in Warsaw, but he addressed the front end of the problem. He needs to give a similarly powerful and historic speech in Detroit, supporting an acceleration of the plans Ford, GM and other US automakers have for transitioning to electric vehicles- and needs to tie that transition to the defeat of Vladimir Putin.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Why Do Putin, Trump, Tucker Carlson And The Republican Party Sound So Alike?
Putin's lies, and the lies coming from America's extreme right, are mutually supporting. There's a reason for that.
By Robert Reich

In a speech delivered last Friday from his office in the Kremlin, Putin criticized the west's "cancel culture", which, he charged, is "canceling" Russia - "an entire thousand-year-old country, our people". It was the third time in recent months Putin has blasted the so-called "cancel culture".

Which is exactly what Trump, Tucker Carlson, and the Republican party have blasted for several years.

"The goal of cancel culture is to make decent Americans live in fear of being fired, expelled, shamed, humiliated and driven from society as we know it," Trump said as he accepted his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2020.

Tucker Carlson, one of Fox News's most prominent personalities, has charged that liberals have been trying to cancel everything from Space Jam to the Fourth of July.

Putin's fixation on transgender and gay people has also been echoed on the American right. Republican state bills aimed at limiting LGBTQ rights or discussion in schools are soaring. Last fall - months before Texas's Republican governor Greg Abbott threatened to criminalize parents who give their transgender children gender-affirming care - Putin argued that teaching children about different gender identities was "on the verge of a crime against humanity."

Then there's admiration for Putin himself. Just before Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Trump deemed him "savvy", "genius", and "smart" for "taking over a country, literally, a vast, vast, location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in." On his Fox News program, Carlson asked, rhetorically: "Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?" But Carlson called Ukraine "an obedient puppet of the Biden state department" and suggests Putin's invasion was nothing more than a "border dispute."

Putin's lies and the lies coming from America's extreme right are mutually reenforcing. Carlson's Fox News segments show up in Russian propaganda. And when the American site "Infowars" resurrected an unfounded Russian claim that the United States funded biological weapons labs in Ukraine, Putin repeated the Infowars story.

To conclude from all of this that authoritarians think alike is to miss a deeper truth. Putin, Trump, Carlson, and a growing number of rightwing commentators and activists, have been promoting much the same narrative - for much the same reason.

Remember, Putin was put into power by a Russian oligarchy made fabulously rich by siphoning off the wealth of the former Soviet Union. Likewise, Trump and the radical right in America have been bankrolled by an American oligarchy - Rupert Murdoch, Charles Koch, Rebekah Mercer (daughter of hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer), Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman, and other billionaires.

What do these two sets of oligarchs get in return? Strongmen who divert the public's attention away from the oligarchs' hijacking of their economies toward cultural fears of being overwhelmed by the "other." Putin's MO has been to fuel Russian ethnic pride and nationalism. The Trump-Carlson-radical right's MO has been to fuel white American nationalism.

In both cases, strongmen and their allies have mythologized a "superior" culture (replete with creation stories of blood ties, motherlands, and religion) supposedly endangered by decadent forces intent on attacking and overwhelming it.

To Putin, the decadent force is the west. As he put it Friday, "domestic culture at all times protected the identity of Russia", which "accepted all the best and creative, but rejected the deceitful and fleeting, that which destroyed continuity of our spiritual values, moral principles and historical memory." Hence, a mythic justification for taking Ukraine back from a seductive but inferior western culture that threatens to overwhelm it and Russia.

The Trump-Carlson-white nationalist narrative is similar: America's dominant white Christian culture is endangered by Black people, immigrants and coastal elites who threaten to overwhelm it.

The culture wars now being orchestrated by the Republican party against transgender people, gay people, poor women seeking abortions, and schools that teach about sex and America's history of racism, emerge from the same narrative as Putin's culture war against a "decadent" West filled with "sociocultural disturbances." As does the right's claim that "secularists" have, in the words of former Trump attorney general William Barr, mounted "an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values."

These tropes have served to distract attention from the systemic economic looting that oligarchs have been undertaking, leaving most people poor and anxious. Which is why the grievances that Putin, Trump, Carlson, and the Republican party use are unremittingly cultural; they are never economic, never about class, and most assuredly not about the predations of the super-rich.

Reduced to basics, today's oligarchs and strongmen (along with their mouthpieces and lackeys) are trying to justify their wealth and power by attacking liberal values that have shaped the west, beginning with the enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries - the values of tolerance, openness, democracy, self-government, equal rights, and the rule of law. These values are incompatible with a society of oligarchs and strongmen.

Ultimately, the oligarchs and strongmen will lose. Putin won't succeed in subduing Ukraine, Trump won't be re-elected president, and Carlson and his ilk won't persuade Americans to give up on American ideals. But the culture wars won't end any time soon, because so much wealth and power have consolidated at the top of America, Russia, and elsewhere around the world that anti-liberal forces have risen to justify it.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Democrats Must Demand Justice Thomas Resign...And His Wife Is Prosecuted
Will the media amplify the voices of Republicans who're saying it's really no big deal, trying to overthrow the government, and that Thomas should stay on the Court?
By Thom Hartmann

In 1969, Richard Nixon and congressional Republicans took down the Supreme Court's most liberal member, Abe Fortas, threatening to send his wife to prison. There's a lesson here for today's Democrats and Clarence Thomas.

Today's Democrats are calling on Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from decisions involving Trump's conspiracy to overthrow our government.

They should be calling on him to resign and his wife to be prosecuted.

It appears that Ginny Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, participated in a plot to overthrow the government of the United States. Which is astonishing in and of itself.

But then her husband was the sole vote on the Court to help that same seditious conspiracy:

When Donald Trump sued to block President Joe Biden from passing presidential papers to the January 6th Committee, the only vote on the Court to support Trump's efforts to hide his crime was that of Clarence Thomas.
Which raises the question: what will Congress and the Justice Department do about these crimes?

Fifty-four years ago, Republicans went nuts over an "ethics scandal" involving a Democratic-appointed member of the Court, and their effort produced so much pressure that he resigned.

Will Democrats similarly force a Thomas resignation, giving Biden another SCOTUS nominee?

Is that possibility the reason why Lindsey Graham just "hinted" that if the Senate flips Republican in this fall's 2022 election the GOP will block all Biden appointees to the Court up to and through the 2024 election?

To understand the possibilities, it's essential to know the precedent, how Republicans pulled it off back in 1968/69:

Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas didn't resign until President Richard Nixon's campaign manager and Attorney General, John Mitchell, threatened to bring felony corruption charges against Fortas' wife.
But I get ahead of myself. It's a truly amazing story that most people alive today know nothing about. It started with "dirty movies" being shown in the US Capitol.

I remember the "Fortas Film Festival" because, when it started in the summer of 1968, I was a teenage boy and curious about the movies that Senator Strom Thurmond was showing to his male peers in that meeting room in the Capitol.

Most people in America were probably also curious; the Supreme Court had recently legalized pornography, but watching it back then meant sitting in a sleazy theater in a sleazy part of town with a bunch of sleazy characters.

But the infamous segregationist Senator Thurmond was on a roll in 1968, playing dirty movies back-to-back for any Senator or aide who wanted to show up. TIME Magazine did a feature on it, noting:

"Day after day last week, Thurmond buttonholed his colleagues to watch the films in darkened Senate offices. One aide of Richard Nixon called it 'the Fortas Film Festival.' The Senators were not titillated but shocked, and they left the showings in a grim mood. The screenings apparently swayed some votes away from Fortas. Senators know that middle-class opposition to pornography is rising, and the subject-like the Supreme Court itself-has become a symbol of what is wrong in the U.S."
The newspapers loved it, as similar "film festivals" popped up on campuses across the country. Yale, for example, got into the act, holding their own "Fortas Film Festival" featuring the same movies Thurmond had shown to the Senate. As The New York Times noted at the time:
"The main feature of the night was 'Flaming Creatures,' seen [months earlier] by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during their debate on Justice Fortas' nomination as Chief Justice. ... In the audience was John T. Rich, editor of the Yale Law Journal. 'I figured if Senator Strom Thurmond could see this movie, so could I,' he said."
So...what provoked the Fortas Film Festivals?

It was, purely, a burning desire by conservatives to shift the Supreme Court to the right, amplified by Richard Nixon's vigorous campaign that year to become president in the November election.

It started in the last year of LBJ's presidency.

In June of 1968, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren - a liberal who'd been appointed by Dwight Eisenhower - decided to resign from the Court so that President Lyndon Johnson would have a full six months to replace him with another liberal.

LBJ proposed elevating the only Jewish member of the US Supreme Court to become the new Chief Justice (and Homer Thornberry to fill Warren's empty seat), but racist and antisemitic "conservatives" like Thurmond - and presidential candidate Richard Nixon - saw the upcoming hearings as a grand opportunity.

They postponed Thornberry's nomination, front-loading the hearings about putting Fortas in charge of the Court, and then ran an inquisition into Fortas over a $15,000 speaking fee he'd taken to address a college group. (Clarence Thomas has also taken $15,000 speaking fees, for the record.)

With that "scandalous" payment - and his vote on the Court to legalize pornography - as the excuses, Republicans and Southern "conservative" Democrats like Thurmond arrayed a Senate filibuster to block the liberal Fortas' elevation to Chief Justice.

It dragged out for months; on October 2, 1968 it became obvious the filibuster couldn't be broken and Fortas withdrew his name from consideration for Chief Justice, although he planned to remain on the Court as an Associate Justice like his peers.

By then it was too late for LBJ to elevate another liberal to Chief Justice (Warren stayed on the Court for another half-year to provide continuity) and also too late for LBJ's nominee Thornberry to even be considered to replace Warren's empty seat before the presidential election four weeks later.

But that was just the beginning.

Once Nixon came into office on January 20, 1969 he put ending the Court's "liberal" bent at the top of his agenda. That meant not only replacing Warren (who stayed on until June 23, 1969), but, to tip the Court conservative, getting rid of it's most liberal member, Abe Fortas.

Attorney General John Mitchell ordered the Justice Department to begin an investigation into Fortas' wife, Carolyn Agger, who was a lawyer with the DC firm that had previously employed Fortas.

Rightwing media had claimed - without evidence - that documents that might be found in a safe in her office might prove she was involved in a tax-evasion scheme.

There was never any evidence whatsoever, either of Fortas or his wife being corrupt. It was and is not illegal to take a speaking fee: members of the Court do so routinely today. And there was nothing incriminating in her safe.

But Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, and Abe Fortas knew the old legal saw: "A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich."

Mitchell had also dredged up another payment that Fortas had earned, this one $20,000 a year for serving on the board of a charitable foundation (not uncommon for high-end DC lawyers then or now).

This was also totally legal (and nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars Ginny Thomas has taken from rightwing groups since her husband was put on the Court) but Fortas gave back the money anyway.

Not only did that not help: his returning the money was, Nixon charged, proof that it was corrupt in the first place!

Mitchell then announced he was going to have a Justice Department lawyer named William Rehnquist convene a grand jury to look into the "crimes" that right-wingers were claiming Fortas and his wife had committed.

As Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean, who was there and knew the players, wrote in his book on the era (The Rehnquist Choice):

"Did the Justice Department have the goods on Fortas? Not even close. Mitchell's talk was pure bluff. ... Lyndon Johnson's Justice Department had investigated this question [back when Fortas was nominated for Chief Justice in 1968] and found nothing improper.... Reopening of the matter by Richard Nixon's Justice Department was purely a means to torture Fortas."
But faced with the possibility of his wife being dragged through the mud and both of them spending years and a fortune defending themselves, Fortas threw in the towel. He resigned from the Supreme Court five months into Nixon's presidency on May 14, 1969.

With their mission accomplished, Mitchell immediately dropped the threat of the grand jury. As John Dean noted:

"The Fortas resignation meant that Richard Nixon now had two seats to fill on the Court: Earl Warren's center seat and the seat of Associate Justice Abe Fortas, who was leaving the Court at fifty-nine years of age. It also meant that two of the Court's most liberal justices were gone.

"Nixon's aggressive posture toward the high court was paying off in a big way, with the help of John Mitchell and his hard-nosed team at the Justice Department, Rehnquist among them."

So, how will it all play out this time?

Will the Biden administration or Congress make referrals of Ginny and Clarence Thomas' participation in a seditious conspiracy to the Justice Department?

If they do, will Merrick Garland pick it up like John Mitchell did in 1969?

Will Congress take Representative Ilhan Omar's advice and begin impeachment proceedings against Thomas?

Will the media amplify Democrats' charges against both Ginny and Clarence the way they went after Abe Fortas for months?

Will Clarence Thomas gracefully resign his position like Fortas did?

If he does, will Republicans block any more Biden nominees to the Court to replace Thomas?

Or will the media amplify the voices of Republicans who're saying it's really no big deal, trying to overthrow the government, and that Thomas should stay on the Court?>{?} Stay tuned...this show is just getting started...

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

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Putin Reaching 'End Of Goodfellas' Levels Of Paranoia
By The Waterford Whispers News

REPORTS from Kremlin insiders have shown that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's paranoia has reached 'ah here' levels, prompting many aides to put in for holidays over the next few weeks just to get out of the place.

"I'm fucked if I'm hanging round here to be carted off to the Gulag under suspicion of being a spy for the west," stated one intern, handing in his notice and getting the hell out of Dodgeski as the faint sound of Putin screaming at his advisors from the end of an impossibly long table echoed from a faraway office.

"I dropped him in a cup of tea the other day and he made me drink it in front of him instead. He hasn't consumed fluids in a week, maybe more," confirmed a member of the canteen staff, who is currently isolating at home for 14 days after insisting they felt Covid-like symptoms and 'didn't want anyone in the office to get it.'

Experts studying the situation have suggested that while Putin may not quite have reached 'Henry Hill driving around looking for helicopters in the sky like at the end of Goodfellas' levels, it may only be a matter of time.

"Of course, the hope is that once he gets to a certain stage of stress, he'll just call off the war and that'll be that," said one psychiatrist we spoke to.

"But you, know, there's always the possibility that he'll say fuck this and, to stick with the Goodfellas metaphor, things get a little 'Billy Batts' for the rest of the world."

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 13 (c) 04/01/2022

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